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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

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and fertilizer. As a result, a trend toward food self-sufficiency is observed in a growing number of low income countries that previously were dependent on imports. In the opinion of many today, the world's food supply prospects have taken a radical turn for the better, at least for the next decade or two. Indeed, attention is now directed at problems of agricultural surplus. There are fears that export earnings will decrease as previously importing areas become more, or entirely, self-sufficient; that increased output in modem agrarian sectors will further depress the subsistence sectors by forcing down prices; and that increased landlessness and other "push" forces operating in the countryside will add to the already enormous social and economic costs of accommodating the flow of people to urban areas.
In short, fears of food supply disasters in the less developed countries seem less sustainable today than at perhaps any time in the last 25 years. Quite apart from the dramatic nature of the recent turnabout in the world food-population picture, the avoidance of any major disaster from economic causes would be noteworthy on other grounds. For one, it has been achieved in the face of unprecedented^ steep, and still rising, rates of population growth, involving rates and numbers today which are something like double or more those encountered in the less developed countries only 30 to 40 years ago. Although trends in food consumption per capita are too poorly documented to permit generalization for any substantial part of the less developed countries, such data as there are on calorie and protein intake suggest that increases since the 1930's have not been uncommon, though with a number of important exceptions and with many more instances of shorter-run fluctuations or declines since the 1950's.
Whatever the actual facts in the documented cases and the many more undocumented ones, the trends in food consumption have clearly not impeded remarkable gains in longevity and disease control. (That they have been causes of such gains in any significant degree seems doubtful in most instances.) Death rates have fallen and life expectancy has risen spectacularly throughout nearly all Latin America and Asia and many parts of AfricaŚ often at rates of change with no precedent in the recorded annals of the developed regions.
Despite the prevalence of high rural population density in many less developed countries, their trends in agricultural output have been remarkably